This lesson on Reaching the Millennial Member for Private Clubs from the Crushing Club Marketing Academy is hosted by StoryTeller's Ruth Glaser, former director of sales and marketing at Hazeltine National Golf Club, and StoryTeller account strategist, Kevin Page. The Crushing Club Marketing Academy has new lessons on the third Tuesday of every month. To watch all of the on-demand videos, Enroll in the Academy.
Ruth: What makes you think of private club membership as opposed to weekend trips or playing local courses?
Kevin: What’s drawing me into membership now is a sense of community and culture. At my age, I’ve been golfing since I was a kid and I’ve never had a home course I can really master or a place I can bring friends for food and events. As my friends and I grow up, we’re getting to the age where we’re starting to have families and settling down into what we’re sort of calling our ‘forever homes.’ We definitely want that sense of community and being a part of a tribe and that’s why golf clubs just make a hell of a lot of sense for how they’re structured with their events and junior programs and those kinds of things. The frustrating thing is you don’t know what all those things are always.
Ruth: What have some of your frustrations been in the process of evaluating clubs?
Kevin: I think the biggest thing for me has just been the level of transparency. I think there is a certain level of the less we say the better almost, you know “oh we’re a luxury brand.” We do want to plant roots and we do want to look at these kinds of situations and say that we are satisfied with the decision we made and we don’t want to start over, but we need to have the right information to make that decision.
Ruth: You know you’re obviously looking for a golf club. Well every club you’re looking at has a golf course, so how do you evaluate what you are looking for?
Kevin: There’s so much information online. Besides course fly-over videos, and course websites, I’m looking for more of a conceptual basis. I’m looking for transparency, windows into your club. I want to see what it’s like there, I don’t want to see “Oh you’ll know when you get here...or ‘trust us’.” I promise I won’t set foot in your club if I don’t know what it costs, I will not take the time out of my day to explore something that I don’t even know if it’s within my means. If you try to sell me on this idea that you’re something else, it’s going to get exposed really quick.
You may not be able to answer every one of my questions and frankly, I don’t even know what all of my questions are. You know what would actually be really good is if a club helped me know what questions to ask. I haven’t done this before and people my age typically haven’t done this before and if they weren’t raised with their parents going to a club and they don’t necessarily know what questions to ask.
And don’t say “Okay, are you ready to sign today?” Say, “Hey go look at some other places. We’re sure that our membership is the type of membership you’re going to want and be confident about it!”
Ruth: What is important to you in the golf experience?
Kevin: What is it like to play with other members? I'm more of a laid back golfer. I'm not really great and I'm not a golf nut. The course architecture and all of that doesn't mean as much to me. There are certainly people my age that it does mean a lot to, but it doesn't mean as much to me. I'm more worried about will I fit in? If I’m shooting in the 90s, will I slow down other groups? Will other groups slow me down?
As I mentioned, I have a lot of areas in my golf game that I need to improve. What’s the instruction like? Do you have an accomplished head pro or golf instructor? What’s his/her résumé? If you have one of the best golf instructors in the state and you're not sharing them online that's a huge wasted opportunity because there's a lot of people that really want to improve their game.
Ruth: So, really leaning into that and not just saying “Oh we have a beautiful course, you’d be a fool not to join here.”
Kevin: No, there’s so much more than the accolades of the course, or how challenging it is. It's about how they're going to help you enjoy the game right.
Ruth: What makes a difference in a club?
Kevin: I have to have a vision of what it would look like to join. Can I go get work done? I want to get work done in the evening and need to get away from the house. Can I go there to watch the Vikings on a Sunday afternoon with a group of people instead of staying home? Or is it strictly golf?
I want this to be a place I will stay at for a long time. I don’t want it to be something where I have a family and then need to find a new club. And same with my fiancée, there has to be enough going on for her. What kind of clubs/groups are within the club? Wine Wednesday? Ladies golf groups? I may be the only serious golfer right now, but I will definitely not be the only one utilizing the club.
Ruth: Is there anything else that you want our club marketers listening to this today to know? Anything that they should take into consideration when they're trying to reach more people like you?
Kevin: I think one of the big things that I haven't shared yet that might be kind of interesting to share is a lot of times when I'm looking at clubs I'm telling my friends about it. I mentioned this earlier but we have about 20 guys that go on these different golf trips. A lot of times we have conversations about what club we might like to join.
Ruth: Oh you're all going to join together?
Kevin: I don't know if that will end up happening, a lot of its proximity to where you end up settling down but we have many conversations like” Oh I checked out this club here's what I thought…” So I think there'll probably be pockets of people who settle down in the northwest suburbs and will probably all kind of end up joining the club together. I do think there's kind of a group mentality there. Just generationally, I don't think we expose ourselves and make friends as willingly as generations before us have. We have group chats, we have so many ways of keeping in touch with our groups.
Ruth: We do have a question. The question is: Would a range be acceptable instead of an exact price. A lot of things go into final pricing for us. For example, a neighborhood knowing other members’ promotions etc... So they might not give you that exact price or they might not even know it when you first speak and other factors may play into it. How do you feel about that?
Yeah I would feel great about that, to be honest as long as you're not shying away from it or running away from it, if you're addressing what factors are going to drive it up. What factors are going to drive it down? That's totally fine. I just think addressing pricing is going to be a big thing.